Meet Your Neighbour: Doug MacGregor

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Doug MacGregor in his dairy barn.

by Jennifer Westendorp

Doug MacGregor calls it like he sees it. The sixth-generation dairy farmer grew up on his family farm in Morewood. “The first MacGregors were here in 1882,” explains Doug, “and we’ve been here ever since.”

Doug now runs the farm alongside his parents, Janet and Tom, with help from his wife, Margaret. “My dad still works seven days a week,” he notes. “With the automated milkers and feed system, he says farming has become fun now.”

Doug and Margaret have two kids, a seven-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. “My daughter is a tomboy, but everything has to be pink.” The kids like coming to the barn, where they can ride their bikes and scooters down the feed alley while Doug gets on with the chores. He says growing up on a farm was ‘work.’ Every morning before school, he’d head out to the barn and do his chores, then go inside for breakfast before leaving for school.

There was a brief time when Doug considered becoming a mechanic instead of a farmer. “In high school, I worked at a garage in Chesterville. I did my co-op there in grade 11 and 12 and I really enjoyed it. Then, one day, I was doing an oil change on a car and I had salt running down my arm dripping into my mouth…and there was this moment where I thought, I’d rather be in the barn.”

Doug’s life is pretty much farming. He’s also been a volunteer firefighter in Morewood for going on 19 years, having signed up right out of high school. 

“My dad was a firefighter for many years, and Morewood used to have bingos every second Saturday. Dad used to help out with that, and I’d go up with him and help out at the canteen, just to spend time with him. It’s a great group here in Morewood.”

What he likes about farming is the variety. “The thing I love most about farming is that one day to the next is never the same. Today, it could be some field work, tomorrow working in the shop, and the next day doing something with the cows.” 

Doug and Tom spent eight years designing their state-of-the-art dairy barn. He says milk production has steadily climbed since upgrading the equipment, even though the number of cows being milked has stayed the same. “Robots have changed everything,” Doug notes. “We don’t need to be here at 5am and 5pm every day – it makes farming more flexible.” 

He’s been using some of his free time to learn how to skate and swim. He even built a 36ft by 60ft rink inside his machine shed. “I never really skated or swam much as a kid, so the last couple of years I’ve been teaching myself how so I can keep up with my kids.”

Doug says his son is a better skater than him because he’s not afraid to fall. “I don’t skate without a hockey stick in my hand,” he laughs. 

Doug would like to see a seventh-generation at Glen Haven, but whether his kids become farmers is entirely up to them. Right now, his son wants to be a ‘police officer/firefighter,’ but that could change 10 years down the road. “We’ll see how it goes…hopefully one of them takes over – I’m not picky.”

Doug says farming is a job that if you don’t love it, don’t do it. No matter what you do to earn a living, Doug says North Dundas is a great place to hang your hat. 

“The community and the people make it what it is,” he notes. “I don’t know any different, but Morewood has always been a great town. I remember the carnivals we had in the winter time and then in the summer, we used to have a Sun Fun Day. At the RA, they would have a water slide set up in the back and we used to take a cow the odd time for Bossy Bingo (cow plops instead of plastic markers, painted grass instead of a number card).

“Stuff you’d never see growing up in a city.”

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